Top 10 Must Watched Best Shark Attack Movies in Hollywood
From The Reef to 47 Meters Down, the genre of shark attack movies has seen numerous entries, but few have matched the impact of the legendary Jaws released almost half a century ago. Despite the rarity of actual shark attacks on humans, filmmakers continue to capitalize on the fear these creatures evoke, attracting audiences to theaters with a steady stream of shark-centric thrillers. Even though documentaries aired during Shark Week attempt to dispel misconceptions about sharks, the allure of shark movies remains strong.
Inspired by Steven Spielberg’s iconic Jaws, many filmmakers have pursued similar success, either by venturing into uncharted territory or by attempting to recreate the original’s formula. With the vast number of shark attack movies available, limiting a list to just ten for Shark Week proves impossible.
As a child, I developed a fear of bodies of water, fearing the hidden presence of man-eating sharks beneath seemingly calm surfaces. Shark movies only fueled this paranoia, repeatedly reminding me that the natural order of the world could strike unexpectedly.
While the concept of shark-based films appears straightforward—vacationers, boaters, or any group of individuals being hunted by one or more sharks—many examples fail to deliver on this formula. This is precisely why I enjoy compiling lists like this one, to guide moviegoers toward the best of the best. Despite the numerous shark films released since Jaws, has any movie managed to surpass the fame and impact of the 1975 blockbuster?
List of 10 Best Shark Attack Movies in Hollywood
1. The Shallows
“The Shallows” is a thrilling shark attack film that captivated audiences with its intense and tightly-woven storyline. Released on June 24, 2016, and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, the movie stars Blake Lively in the lead role. The film’s plot revolves around Nancy Adams (played by Lively), a young woman who decides to go surfing alone at a secluded cove while on a personal journey to reconnect with her deceased mother’s favorite beach.
- As the film unfolds, the premise may seem far-fetched—a lone surfer fighting for survival against a relentless great white shark in a shallow reef. However, the execution of the story is executed flawlessly, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the entirety of the film. What makes “The Shallows” stand out is its ability to turn a seemingly ordinary situation into a heart-pounding battle for survival.
- One of the film’s highlights is Blake Lively’s outstanding performance, as she brings depth and vulnerability to her character. Every piece of Nancy’s wardrobe becomes essential in her fight against the predator, cleverly demonstrating her resourcefulness and determination. Additionally, Steven Seagull, Nancy’s avian companion, adds an unexpected element of charm and support to the narrative, earning the admiration of audiences worldwide.
- “The Shallows” showcases breathtaking cinematography, capturing the beauty and danger of the ocean setting. The film’s visual effects are remarkable, creating a sense of realism that heightens the suspense and terror as the shark relentlessly pursues its prey. The use of sound design and music further enhances the tension, making every encounter with the shark an adrenaline-pumping experience for viewers.
Although the movie’s premise may appear ludicrous on the surface, “The Shallows” manages to overcome any skepticism through its well-crafted storytelling and compelling performances. It demonstrates that even in a seemingly tranquil environment, danger can strike unexpectedly, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats until the very end. “The Shallows” is a testament to the enduring popularity of shark attack films and stands as a thrilling addition to the genre.
2. Shark Night (2011)
“Shark Night” is a horror film released on September 2, 2011, directed by David R. Ellis. The movie follows the classic horror setup of a group of college students going on vacation, but with a twist—instead of encountering a typical lake predator, they find themselves facing off against a variety of sharks in a saltwater lake.
- While the premise may sound far-fetched, “Shark Night” fully embraces its status as a popcorn flick and doesn’t attempt to be anything more than an entertaining, thrilling ride. The film offers a blend of gory kills, impressive CGI, and practical effects that showcase the different species of sharks present in the lake. This diversity leads to a range of unique and varied kill sequences, providing a fresh take on the typical shark attack formula.
- The movie doesn’t shy away from showcasing the gruesome nature of the attacks, delivering moments of suspense and terror as the characters battle for their lives against these unexpected predators. The combination of practical effects and CGI allows for visually striking and intense shark encounters that keep viewers engaged throughout the film.
- Despite being a horror movie centered around killer sharks, “Shark Night” also provides moments of fun and excitement. It balances the tension with moments of humor and camaraderie among the characters, creating a dynamic and enjoyable experience for the audience.
- While “Shark Night” may not reach the same level of critical acclaim as some of its predecessors in the shark attack genre, it succeeds in delivering a satisfying popcorn flick experience. It embraces its B-movie roots and offers an entertaining mix of scares, gore, and excitement. For fans of shark movies, “Shark Night” provides a different twist by incorporating multiple species of sharks and delivering a variety of skills that keep the audience on their toes.
Overall, “Shark Night” stands as an entertaining addition to the shark attack film genre, offering a blend of horror, thrills, and a touch of humor. Released in 2011 and directed by David R. Ellis, the movie delivers an enjoyable ride for those seeking an entertaining and suspenseful shark-themed popcorn flick.
3. Jaws (1975)
“Jaws,” directed by Steven Spielberg, revolutionized the summer blockbuster genre. Released on June 20, 1975, the film quickly became a cultural phenomenon. With its gripping story, memorable characters, and innovative special effects, “Jaws” remains the ultimate shark movie even after several decades.
- The film takes place on Amity Island, a small coastal town plagued by a great white shark that threatens the lives of beachgoers. As the death toll rises, the town’s mayor prioritizes the economic benefits of the upcoming 4th of July holiday over public safety, leaving the residents in grave danger. The story centers around three protagonists: Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), marine biologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw), who unite to confront the deadly predator.
- What sets “Jaws” apart is Spielberg’s masterful ability to create suspense. Through expert pacing, atmospheric cinematography, and an iconic score composed by John Williams, the director builds tension, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats. Spielberg’s decision to delay revealing the shark until later in the film adds to the atmosphere of impending doom, heightening the fear and anticipation.
- Despite facing technical challenges, such as issues with the animatronic shark, nicknamed “Bruce,” Spielberg skillfully turned these setbacks into advantages. By relying on the unseen presence of the shark and focusing on the characters’ reactions, the film intensifies the audience’s fear, creating a more visceral and terrifying experience.
- “Jaws” achieved massive box office success, earning approximately $476.5 million worldwide—an extraordinary feat at the time. Beyond its financial impact, the film ingrained a deep fear of sharks in the public consciousness. The shocking death of young Alex Kintner and the haunting theme music have become iconic symbols of terror in cinema.
Decades later, “Jaws” remains the benchmark for shark movies, showcasing an ideal blend of suspense, adventure, and horror. Spielberg’s exceptional direction, combined with stellar performances from the cast, continues to captivate audiences. With its timeless storytelling and enduring cultural significance, “Jaws” stands as a testament to the lasting power of cinema. It remains the definitive shark movie that has yet to be surpassed.
4. Great White (2021)
“Great White” is a shark attack thriller film released in 2021. Directed by Martin Wilson, the movie revolves around a group of survivors stranded on a life raft in the ocean, desperately trying to reach the safety of the shore. However, their fight for survival takes a terrifying turn as they find themselves stalked by a relentless great white shark.
While “Great White” follows the familiar formula established by movies like “The Shallows,” it doesn’t bring anything particularly new or groundbreaking to the table. Instead, it adheres to the conventions of a typical shark attack thriller, delivering suspenseful and tense moments as the characters confront the imminent danger posed by the shark.
- The film aims to generate a sense of fear and thrill through its depiction of the relentless pursuit of the great white shark. As the survivors battle exhaustion, hunger, and the harsh environment, the looming threat of the predator adds a layer of tension to their already dire situation.
- Released in 2021, “Great White” offers a contemporary take on the shark attack genre, showcasing the ongoing fascination with these apex predators. While it may not offer any groundbreaking elements, the movie caters to fans of thrilling survival stories and the suspense of encountering a deadly creature in the vastness of the ocean.
- Despite its lack of innovation, “Great White” provides viewers with an engaging and suspenseful experience. The performances of the cast, which include actors such as Katrina Bowden and Aaron Jakubenko, help to elevate the tension and create a sense of urgency as the characters face a perilous fight for their lives.
Overall, “Great White” falls within the realm of a typical shark attack thriller, delivering suspense and thrills as the survivors battle against a relentless great white shark. While it may not break new ground in the genre, the film offers an entertaining experience for fans of shark movies and survival thrillers.
5. The Last Shark (1981)
“The Last Shark,” also known as “Great White” in certain regions, is a shark attack film released in 1981. Directed by Enzo G. Castellari, the movie is widely regarded as one of the more infamous knockoffs of the iconic film “Jaws.” While borrowing similar characters and plotlines, “The Last Shark” offers a basic and straightforward shark attack narrative.
- The film centers around a coastal community that falls victim to a menacing shark terrorizing its waters. As the attacks escalate, a group of characters, reminiscent of those found in “Jaws,” come together to confront the deadly predator. However, it becomes evident that the animatronic shark used in the film, while slightly better than most knockoffs, is still far from being of high quality.
- The animatronic shark in “The Last Shark” is known for its rather repetitive and predictable movements. Rising from the water in a manner reminiscent of the iconic “Jaws” poster, it lacks the realism and sophistication of the original film’s mechanical shark. Despite its limitations, the shark’s appearances, coupled with some absurd and over-the-top death scenes, contribute to the movie’s entertainment value.
- Released in 1981, “The Last Shark” embodies the era of Jaws-inspired knockoffs that flooded the market during that time. While it may not offer the same level of quality or suspense as its predecessor, the film can still provide an enjoyable and entertaining experience, especially for fans of B-movie creature features.
- “The Last Shark” is widely available on various streaming platforms and often can be accessed for free. This accessibility, combined with its campy and somewhat ridiculous nature, makes it suitable for watching with friends and potentially turning the viewing experience into a lighthearted and humorous occasion.
In summary, “The Last Shark” is a notorious Jaws knockoff that delivers a basic shark attack storyline. Although the animatronic shark is better than many other knockoffs, it still falls short in comparison to the original film. Released in 1981, the movie offers an entertaining experience for those seeking a campy creature feature and can be enjoyed for its unintentional humor and silly death scenes.
6. Dark Tide (2012)
“Dark Tide” is a shark attack film released in 2012. Directed by John Stockwell, the movie introduces an intriguing twist to the conventional shark attack formula. Instead of portraying sharks as unnaturally aggressive predators, Halle Berry’s character is depicted as a shark whisperer, and the sharks are presented as mere animals. The film follows Berry’s character, haunted by the memory of a shark attack that claimed the life of a friend and colleague.
- In an attempt to overcome her fears and earn some money, Berry’s character agrees to take a man and his son on an expedition to observe sharks. However, “Dark Tide” has faced criticism for lacking excitement and being relatively dull for a significant portion of its runtime. While the film boasts one standout element—the portrayal of sharks—and benefits from a solid performance by Halle Berry, there have been other shark movies that have executed the concept more effectively.
- Released in 2012, “Dark Tide” offers an alternative perspective by exploring the idea of a human-shark connection rather than focusing solely on shark attacks and the associated fear. This unique approach initially intrigues viewers, providing a fresh angle within the genre. However, the film’s execution falls short of its potential, failing to maintain a consistent level of tension and excitement throughout.
- Despite its flaws, “Dark Tide” does showcase impressive shark sequences, featuring realistic and captivating portrayals of the marine creatures. Additionally, Halle Berry’s performance adds depth to her character and helps to elevate the overall quality of the film.
- “Dark Tide” offers a different take on the shark attack genre, presenting Halle Berry’s character as a shark whisperer haunted by past experiences. While the film initially presents an intriguing premise and benefits from solid shark portrayals and Berry’s performance, it has been criticized for its overall dullness and failure to fully capitalize on its unique concept.
Released in 2012, “Dark Tide” may not reach the heights of other notable shark movies, but it can still provide some entertainment value for those interested in exploring a different perspective on the relationship between humans and sharks.
7. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)
“47 Meters Down: Uncaged” is a shark attack film and a sequel to the 2017 movie “47 Meters Down.” Directed by Johannes Roberts, the film was released in 2019. While it shares a general concept with its predecessor—a group of young women trying to avoid being devoured by sharks—it deviates from the original storyline.
- The film revolves around teenage stepsisters Mia and Sasha, along with a couple of their friends, who decide to embark on a day of unsupervised scuba diving in underwater caves. These caves have been explored by Mia’s father during his work. However, their adventure takes a terrifying turn when they find themselves trapped deep underwater with limited air supplies. To make matters worse, they are pursued by hungry and blind albino sharks in the dark depths of the caves.
- “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” embraces a concept similar to the claustrophobic nature of the film “The Descent,” where the characters are trapped in an enclosed and dangerous environment. The sense of impending danger and the struggle for survival in an unforgiving underwater setting creates tension and suspense throughout the movie.
- As a standalone sequel, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” differs significantly from its predecessor, with no direct narrative connection. Instead, it explores a new group of characters facing a similarly perilous situation. While the film may not introduce fresh ideas to the shark attack genre, it offers a watchable experience, particularly for a casual Saturday afternoon viewing.
- Director Johannes Roberts puts forth efforts to deliver an engaging and thrilling shark attack movie. The film benefits from Roberts’ direction, as he effectively builds tension and employs various techniques to keep the audience on edge. The underwater setting and the inclusion of blind albino sharks add a layer of uniqueness to the film’s shark encounters.
In summary, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” is a 2019 shark attack film directed by Johannes Roberts. It presents a new group of characters, including stepsisters Mia and Sasha, who find themselves trapped in underwater caves and pursued by blind albino sharks. While the film may not offer groundbreaking storytelling, it provides a watchable and suspenseful experience, with the director’s efforts to create tension and deliver thrilling shark encounters.
8. Bait (2012)
“Bait” is a creature feature film released in 2012. Directed by Kimble Rendall, the movie centers around a group of shoppers who find themselves trapped in an Australian supermarket after a devastating tsunami hits the area. However, their predicament takes a terrifying turn when they discover that they are not alone—the flooded supermarket is now infested with large Great White sharks.
- The main gimmick of “Bait” revolves around the unusual and thrilling scenario of people being trapped with sharks in a submerged grocery store. While dealing with the constant threat of the sharks, the characters also face additional challenges, including untrustworthy gun-toting thieves and a loose electrical wire, adding further complications to their already perilous situation.
- The film caters to fans of creature features, offering a mix of suspense, action, and horror. With an eclectic cast of characters and solid visual effects, “Bait” delivers an entertaining experience. Despite the inherent danger and tension, the movie maintains a brisk pace, clocking in at a relatively short runtime of 93 minutes.
- Released in 2012, “Bait” offers a unique concept that blends natural disaster elements with a creature feature twist. The film capitalizes on the fear of sharks and explores the claustrophobic setting of a flooded supermarket, resulting in a thrilling and suspenseful ride for the audience. The Australian backdrop adds an extra layer of intrigue, setting the stage for a different kind of shark attack scenario.
While “Bait” may not reach the heights of cinematic masterpieces, it offers a satisfying experience for those intrigued by the concept of sharks preying on unsuspecting shoppers in an unusual location. With its enjoyable cast, well-executed effects, and concise runtime, the film aims to entertain viewers who appreciate the thrilling escapades of a creature feature.
9. U.S.S. Indianapolis: Men Of Courage (2016)
“U.S.S. Indianapolis: Men of Courage” is a World War II film released on October 14, 2016. Directed by Mario Van Peebles, the movie stars Nicolas Cage in the lead role. While not primarily a shark movie, it delves into the harrowing true story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, which delivered the atomic bomb and subsequently sank, leaving its crew stranded in shark-infested waters.
- The film focuses on the war epic elements, recounting the events leading up to the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the subsequent fight for survival by the Navy officers in the water. Alongside the threat of sharks, the survivors also face challenges from the treacherous ocean itself.
- Despite its low-budget status, “U.S.S. Indianapolis: Men of Courage” offers an engaging portrayal of the historical events and the resilience of those involved. Nicolas Cage’s performance adds to the film’s appeal, drawing viewers into the gripping narrative of survival against all odds.
While it may not be a standout war film or a typical shark movie, it provides an intriguing blend of history, suspense, and human perseverance.
10. 47 Meters Down (2017)
“47 Meters Down” is a thrilling shark-centric film released on June 16, 2017. Directed by Johannes Roberts, the movie stars Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as sisters who embark on a cage-diving adventure. Hoping for an exhilarating up-close encounter with sharks, they soon find themselves in a perilous situation when their cage plummets 47 meters below the ocean’s surface, leaving them stranded and surrounded by predatory sharks.
- The film skillfully builds tension as the sisters grapple with their rapidly dwindling air supply and the constant threat of the circling sharks. As the claustrophobic setting and dire circumstances intensify, the suspense escalates, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats.
- “47 Meters Down” distinguishes itself from its sequel by leaning more towards a thrilling narrative rather than focusing solely on violent shark attacks. While the concept requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief, the film offers a chilling and gripping experience for fans of the genre.
- Mandy Moore and Claire Holt deliver convincing performances, conveying the sisters’ escalating fear and desperation in the face of impending danger. Their portrayals add depth to the characters and enhance the audience’s emotional connection to their plight.
- Released to positive reception, “47 Meters Down” proved to be a hit among viewers who appreciate suspenseful underwater thrillers. Its success has also inspired the creation of similar chilling movies that explore the perils of being trapped in the depths of the ocean with predatory creatures.
Overall, “47 Meters Down” provides a thrilling and suspenseful ride, combining an intriguing premise, skilled direction, and compelling performances. It offers an immersive experience for audiences seeking an adrenaline-pumping shark-themed thriller.
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In conclusion, shark attack movies in Hollywood have captured the attention and excitement of audiences, offering a range of thrilling experiences. While opinions may differ on the best films in this genre, notable mentions include iconic classics like “Jaws” and intense survival thrillers like “The Shallows” and “Open Water.” Additionally, there are also entertaining options for those who enjoy more exaggerated and campy experiences, such as “The Meg” and “Sharknado.” Ultimately, the best shark attack movie for each individual will depend on their personal preferences for storytelling, suspense, and the desired level of intensity.